I recall listening to an audio cassette version of this book in the mid to late 90s.

Two young boys are invited to try out a new virtual reality game. They are hooked up to some headgear and special suits, with their "game world" a series of treadmills to simulate terrain. They die pretty graphically, with the protagonist's friend burning alive in lava.

After they head back, the two start seeing elements of the game in real life, to the point where they cannot discern the game world from the real world.

The creator of the game explains that the boys have to beat the game and the final boss, a giant, in order to stop the hallucinations.

It was called something like "R_______'s Game" or something similar, I think.


3 Answers 3


This sounds like Rodomonte's Revenge (World of Adventure) by Gary Paulsen. I read this ages ago.

Anyway, a synopsis from the Barnes & Noble website:

As Brett watched, one hand slipped loose, then the other. Tom dropped, screaming, into the flames. His body, all red and bubbled, boiled up once to the surface, then was gone. PLAYER ONE HAS ONE LIFE REMAINING. GAME CONTINUES.

Flaming fire rivers. Divebombing buzz-bugs. A cruel king waiting to do battle in his computer-generated castle. Video game whizzes Brett Wilder and Tom Houston think that new virtual reality game Rodomonte’s Revenge is awesome-until it takes over their minds. Then the game playing becomes dangerously real, and one wrong move could be the last.

Rodomonte's Revenge

  • If someone could clean up the link for me I would appreciate it. I'm posting from my phone, so the link is for the mobile site. May 8, 2016 at 3:11
  • This is it! Thank yo so much!
    – Thassa
    May 9, 2016 at 12:44

Absent other details, I'm going to suggest Eye of Minds by James Dashner, the first book of the Mortality Doctrine series.

Book cover

Michael is a gamer. And like most gamers, he almost spends more time on the VirtNet than in the actual world. The VirtNet offers total mind and body immersion, and it’s addictive. Thanks to technology, anyone with enough money can experience fantasy worlds, risk their life without the chance of death, or just hang around with Virt-friends. And the more hacking skills you have, the more fun. Why bother following the rules when most of them are dumb, anyway?

But some rules were made for a reason. Some technology is too dangerous to fool with. And recent reports claim that one gamer is going beyond what any gamer has done before: he’s holding players hostage inside the VirtNet. The effects are horrific—the hostages have all been declared brain-dead. Yet the gamer’s motives are a mystery.

The government knows that to catch a hacker, you need a hacker. And they’ve been watching Michael. They want him on their team. But the risk is enormous. If he accepts their challenge, Michael will need to go off the VirtNet grid. There are back alleys and corners in the system human eyes have never seen and predators he can’t even fathom—and there’s the possibility that the line between game and reality will be blurred forever

The review here mentions three main characters, "Michael, Bryson, and Sarah", which would fit for the two boys, and specifically mentions the pain of being burned alive in lava. It is a fairly recent book, 2013. There is a CD version of it. I don't think it would have an audio-cassette version, unfortunately.

  • Interesting! But I know that it's just two boys; there are no additional players. The book was much older too, I recall.
    – Thassa
    May 3, 2016 at 19:35

I think I have read the book you are referring to, a long time ago, and have done some research but to no avail. The only possibility I can come up with is 'Ender's game'

Andrew "Ender" Wiggin thinks he is playing computer simulated war games; he is, in fact, engaged in something far more desperate. The result of genetic experimentation, Ender may be the military genius Earth desperately needs in a war against an alien enemy seeking to destroy all human life. The only way to find out is to throw Ender into ever harsher training, to chip away and find the diamond inside, or destroy him utterly. Ender Wiggin is six years old when it begins. He will grow up fast.

However that is not the one I read. I hope you find it. Please let me know if you do.

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